Inside Pittsburgh - July 19th, 2019

Inside Pittsburgh (Jul 19th, 2019)

Happy 'H' Day / Shaler gator / Asthma grant / Post-Gazette cuts more print

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We made it to a very humid Friday, Inside Pittsburgh readers!

In your newsletter today, we take a look at the continued cutbacks of the print edition of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, another alligator was found and we delve into the question, "Is Pittsburgh awesome?"

Stay cool, 'Burghers!

– Bobby

1. Funeral arrangements and other events, including a public End of Watch ceremony, have been finalized for Pittsburgh Police Officer Calvin Hall, who was shot Saturday in Homewood while off duty. Hall was 36. He died Wednesday. Pittsburgh Police said Hall was “acting under the color of the law” when he was shot on Monticello Street in the early hours of Saturday. Police said there is a person of interest in custody on unrelated charges. An End of Watch ceremony is set for Saturday night at the Pittsburgh Police Zone 1 station. – WTAE

2. JCPenney workers were evacuated Friday morning after a fire broke out at Century III Mall in West Mifflin. The department store is the only business still open in the once bustling mall along Route 51. Nobody was hurt in the fire that began in a maintenance garage. The mall was considered unsafe by West Mifflin officials earlier this year because of an issue with the building’s fire and water suppression system. Speculation was rampant in the Century III Mall Memories Facebook group today. – WPXI

3. Follow Friday: @OddPittsburgh

Happy “H” Day, Pittsburg! Or, rather, Pittsburgh.

For about 20 years, Pittsburgh didn’t have its h. So today’s Follow Friday is in honor of one of my favorite Twitter accounts: @OddPittsburgh.

John Schalcosky created the account and its sibling Facebook group. If there is something all Pittsburghers love, it’s the history of our great region. And through these social accounts, John shares things we probably didn’t know about Pittsburgh.

His knowledge has been featured in a number of local news outlets and is often invited to speak about Pittsburgh history at events.

On KDKA Radio (which, itself, has a storied history), John explained that “while there are many, many burgs out there, are not many burgs with an ‘h.’” He told the radio station that the United States Board on Geographic Names made their claim to drop the “h” by noting that the city’s 1816 charter spelled the city without the letter.

But, as John notes, the board was reading a copy of the charter — the original version had an “h.”

And, the rest is history.

4. Fox Chapel Area School District taxpayers are raising questions over possible violations of the state’s Sunshine Law. Concerned residents say school board leaders rarely hold public discussions about agenda items. The district, which covers Fox Chapel, O’Hara, Sharpsburg, Aspinwall, Blawnox and Indiana Township, enjoys some of the state’s best test scores and has long been listed among the best districts in the country. Fox Chapel also has a healthy list of student accolades in athletics, performing arts and academic leagues. Issues first began to rise in 2018 over curriculum and schedule changes at Dorseyville Middle School. The changes would have led to 80-minute classes for math and science, and would have taken time away from arts. The board gave full authority to district Superintendent Gene Freeman to make the changes, which are planned to go into effect. He would not offer an in-person interview to PublicSource, but in an email defended board members, saying they are “very knowledgeable about each topic they vote on.” – PUBLICSOURCE

5. As you probably heard, Pittsburgh’s only printed mostly daily newspaper soon will scale back to just three days a week. Union members at the Post-Gazette shared the news Thursday on Twitter, which was widely reported locally and across the country. The PG already cut back to five days a week last year. The change means Pittsburgh will have a printed newspaper on Thursday, Friday and Sunday. The changes are expected to take place in late September.

Earlier this year, PG Publisher John Block was seen screaming during a late-night tirade in the newsroom. Block Communications officials disagreed with how PG staffers characterized the tirade, saying the publisher was "expressing his frustration to the newsroom staff.” The labor union and the company have been at odds over wages for years.

The Post-Gazette won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for breaking news, for its coverage of the deadly shootings at the Tree of Life Synagogue in October. As Reddit user SWPenn notes, however: "The fact that they're cutting back on print days shouldn't be surprising. Many other cities are doing the same. Seattle, Columbus and Cleveland come to mind. Print editions have been losing advertising revenue for over a decade. When was the last time you saw pages and pages of department store and retail ads? Movie theater ads? Classified ads? Real estate ads?”

6. With more than 10 percent of hospitalizations at UPMC Children’s relating to asthma, researchers hope a grant will help them track pediatric asthma. The $300,000 grant offered to researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Public Health and UPMC Children’s Hospital will help to create the registry to track the disease in children The researchers received the grant from the Allegheny County Clean Air Fund. “Asthma should really never have to be treated in an emergency room setting, and certainly much less a child’s hospitalization. That is an indication that we as a system … we’re frankly, failing our children,” Dr. Liz Miller, chief of its division of adolescent and young adult medicine, said. – TRIBUNE-REVIEW

7. Another alligator was found in the area. This time, Shaler Police tweeted a photo of what they say is a 2-foot gator that was found sometime overnight in the Giant Eagle parking lot on Butler Plank Road. ”If this is your alligator, please send us a message,” the police tweeted. This is the fourth in recent weeks. – SHALER POLICE

8. Wishing it was colder? WPXI’s Chopper 11 pilot Ruben Campos has got you covered. Ruben has been sharing pictures of Pittsburgh during colder temperatures — when the rivers were covered in ice and snow was on the ground. On a day like today, one can only dream of cooler temps. He’s considering it his public service to us. Thanks! — FACEBOOK

9. Is Pittsburgh awesome? That was the question Reddit user MansourBahrami asked yesterday trying to find details about the ‘Burgh. “I've never really been anywhere on the East Coast outside of NYC and Florida.” I figured I’d find a lot of locals beaming with yinzer pride, but, as it turns out, many of the replies came from transplants. “Three year transplant from Georgia. We love it here. Like any other major city there is plenty to do and various places to live depending on your budget and desired lifestyle,” a three-year transplant from Georgia wrote. Overall negatives include traffic and weather. Sounds about right. – REDDIT PITTSBURGH

10. InstaBurgh: A beach with a view? Not quite. User @cameronlogan.pgh shared this gem from Beechview.

Bobby Cherry is a senior editor at Follow his love of all things Pittsburgh and more on Twitter and Instagram.

Editor: Inside Managing Editor and Pittsburgh-based freelance journalist Kim Lyons.

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